Friday, July 25, 2014

52 Ancestors: #30 Marie Guérard, baptized "sous condition"

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 30th week of this challenge, I chose Marie Guérard (1840-1917).

Marie is my paternal great-great-grandmother and is number 23 in my ancestor list.

According to her baptism record in February 1841, Marie was born in “le mois de décembre dernier” (the month of December last). [1]

She was baptized “sous condition” (on condition) in the mission of St-Alphonsus of Liguori in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec. The phrase “sous condition” in a baptism record means that a child is baptized on the condition that he or she hasn’t already been baptized. This scenario occurs, for example, when a newborn is in danger of not surviving and is “ondoyé” (provisionally baptized) by someone present at the birth, for example the midwife, before the child can receive the sacrament of baptism by a priest. If the child survives, he or she is brought to the parish church to be baptized by the priest, who then adds “sous condition” to the child’s record. [2]

Marie was the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Guérard and Euphrosine Laronde. Her father was originally from eastern Quebec, while her mother was a Métis from Ile aux Allumettes, where Chapeau is located. (I’ve written about Euphrosine’s Métis background in Euphrosine Laronde, My Metis Ancestor.)

The next time Marie appears in sacramental records is at her marriage to Joseph Vanasse on 10 January 1859 in St-Alphonsus church in Chapeau. [3]

Marie and Joseph had 13 children, seven sons and six daughters, including Elizabeth, my ancestor.

Marie died on 15 November 1917 in Chapeau. She was buried there two days later in the parish cemetery. [4] Her son Regis (aka Richard) Vanasse and her son-in-law Olivier Vanasse were present.


1. St-Paul (Aylmer, Quebec), parish register, 1841-1851, p. 14 verso, no entry no., Marie Guérard baptism, 4 February 1841; St-Paul parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 8 June 2010).

2. Can. 869 §1 states: “If there is doubt as to whether a person was baptised or whether a baptism was conferred validly […] the person is to be baptised conditionally [“sous condition”]. The Code of Canon Law In English translation, The Canon Law Society Trust, London: Collins Liturgical Publications, 1983, 160.

3. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1857-1876, p. 3 recto, entry no. M2, Joseph Venance – Mary Siard [Guerard] marriage, 10 January 1859; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 30 July 2007).

4. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1917, p. 15 verso, entry no. S19, Moïse Girard [sic] burial, 17 November 1917; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 30 July 2007).

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. This is how I have defined the terms:

    sous condition: conditionally, a phrase used when evidence has been given that the individual had been baptized earlier, in an ondoyement, sprinkling of water while saying “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” whether performed by a lay person (of whatever religion) or by a priest who did not then or could not then provide the full sacramental rites. An individual can be baptized only once. These emergency baptisms are fully legitimate, whether followed by the Church rituals or not before a person dies. The phrase sous condition is thus entered in case the previous emergency baptism, ondoyement, was flawed in intent or in execution. It is sometimes used when the person being baptized had received baptism in a protestant rite but is becoming a Catholic.

    ondoyé[e] / ondoyer / ondoyement: emergency baptism, usually performed when a priest is not present, from the French word for a wave of water. When the child or older individual could be taken to a church, a priest then “supplied” the usual ceremonies and rites of the sacrament of Baptism, such as anointing with holy oil, covering with a white cloth, abjuring the devil and all his pomp, and naming godparents who would be responsible for the spiritual development of the baptized. The entry in a Church register also served as a civil record and could be used for inheritance purposes as well as for future administration of the sacraments of Confirmation, Marriage, or Holy Orders (becoming a priest).

    1. Thank you, Suzanne, for such a great explanation of "sous condition" and "ondoyer". You defined those terms more fully than I did, so I appreciate the extra knowledge and details :)